Experts Forecast Canada Would Have Shortage of 146,000 Miners in Next 10 Years; Mull Temporary Workers as Short-Term Solution

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By Vittorio Hernandez | December 17, 2013 10:00 AM EST

Like Australia which has benefitted from the mining boom, Canada is also going heavily into the resources sector, but similar to the situation of the Land Down Under, Canada too is suffering from skilled labour shortage.


The Mining Industry Human Resource Council estimates that the shortage of mine workers could reach 146,000 in the next decade as older mine employees give up their shovels and pick axes and more new mines start production.

Of that number, about 10,000 would be needed in British Columbia, prompting one Chinese mining firm to plan to fly in 201 Chinese miners who will be deployed in a project in the northern part of BC. However, the plan became controversial as two unions launched a legal challenge that was settled in favour of the Chinese mining company.

In seeking to bring Chinese miners, HD Mining said that it could not find sufficient number of trained miners.

The council, in its labour assessment for 2013, forecasts that the expected pool of new talent would not be enough to meet the demand. It said that about 79,000 new people would be needed for 66 mining occupation that are in core mining activities, but only about 63,000 new workers are expected to be available.

The council's numbers seem to match a report published in the earlier part of 2013 by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce that the excess number of new workers who entered the mining industry in the 1980s and 1990s created a "lost generation of miners," making it difficult to replace those who had retired.

The BC government admitted the looming mining skills labour shortage and insisted it has job training plans to address the issue. BC Jobs Minister Shirley Bond added the Canadian province is committed to ensure local residents are first in line for those jobs.

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